Recipe: Baby's Cannelloni Stuffed with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Ricotta

Wee man is teething. Like, really teething – we think we’ve seen 8 of the little toothy bastards pushing down through his little gums. Poor muffin has been having trouble with solids for the last two days, with any kind of harder texture making it a bit agonising for him to chew. Wee man has been so enthusiastic about skipping spoon feeding and forgoing purees, that it does leave us with few options when he has moments like this. So today we made some baby cannelloni – soft and squishy on his gums, full of yummy goodness to get him through a tough week. They are easy to pick up and handle, either in whole form or cut into slices.

This recipe is perfect for using up leftovers, since with stuffed pasta the variations are endless. It’s also freezer-friendly. Just be sure to freeze the cannelloni separated on a tray first, before putting into a freezer bag, so that you don’t have a big wad of pasta stuck together in one lump.

Wee man inspects his lunch…

Wee man inspects his lunch…

I never claimed it wasn’t a messy meal…

I never claimed it wasn’t a messy meal…

Witness the carnage!

Witness the carnage!

Recipe: Baby’s Cannelloni Stuffed with Butternut Squash, Spinach and Ricotta

Makes: 12 cannelloni tubes

Ingredients

  • 12 cannelloni tubes (ready for the oven)
  • 2 cups roasted and mashed/pureed butternut squash (mine was leftover from our dinner so was loaded with unsalted butter)
  • ½ cup ricotta
  • 2/3 cup spinach, cooked and roughly chopped
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (if using canned or tinned, check the salt content, or make your own)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Grated cheese (you can use cheddar, mozza, parm or anything really, just check the salt content for the quantity you use)
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, chopped

Method

  1. In a large bowl, combine the butternut squash with spinach, ricotta and seasoning.
  2. Grab a baking dish that will fit all of your lovely cannellonis, and smear the olive oil on the bottom with a few tablespoons of the tomato sauce.
  3. Fill each cannelloni with the squash, spinach and ricotta mixture. You can pipe it through a corner of a plastic bag, or use a small teaspoon. If you have trouble getting the mixture to move all the way through, give it a poke with your finger or the skinny end of a spoon.
  4. Arrange cannelloni in the baking dish, leaving a bit of space between each. Cover with remaining tomato sauce. Sprinkle on grated cheese.
  5. Bake at 200c/180c fan/gas mark 6 for about 30 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly, cheese is golden and pasta is cooked.
  6. Garnish with basil and serve after cooling.

Variations

Stuffed pasta has endless options. In fact, the recipe above can be varied in terms of amounts – if you have less ricotta and more squash, no big deal. Just remember to keep the mixture a bit wet, with either tomato sauce or ricotta, or you may find your cannelloni tubes get a bit crunchy in the oven. Here are some different ingredients to try:

  • Cooked minced beef or pork with sautéed garlic, mushrooms and onions
  • Finely diced leftover chicken with sauteed peppers
  • Well steamed kale or other greens
  • Roasted aubergine and courgette

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